Monday, July 5, 2010
Reflections of the Fourth on the Fifth
The fourth of July came and went. The fireworks flew. Traffic snarled. Citizens cheered their citizenship. And I drove home from mom and dad’s contemplating the meanings of the fourth.
The fourth is a good time to look at things historic and current. Even as divided as we are, confused, and verklempt, it’s a good thing to reflect. Here are my four reflections:
1. Founding Fathers- Many of us find it easy to associate the founding fathers with ‘supermen’ who could do little wrong. But these guys were imperfect. Some were philanderers. Many were slave owners. There were egotists and snobs. All had the common goal, though. They wanted freedom from Britain. They were not gods, though some may see them as such. They were mostly wealthy landowners who didn’t like the idea of Britain telling them what to do. Personally, it’s refreshing and encouraging to me that imperfect people came up with such a grand plan.
2. George Washington- George did a lot of stuff. Commanded. Chiefed. Wore ill fitting dentures. Made firewood out of cherry trees (“I cannot tell a lie. It burneth well in our fireplace. And the cherries are a bonus.”) A real man’s man. And when he left office, after trying to reduce the debt and set presidential precedents, he was derided by many who thought he should be king for life. To avoid another encounter with England, he signed a treaty that an opposition press viewed as ‘humiliating.’ But when his eight years were up, he left office, went home, and died two years later. He was from Virginia, like I am. Which gives me hope that one day I will grow up, get ill fitting dentures, and be villified in the local press. Oh, the dreams I have...
3. The Military- I can sit on my deck, drink my coffee, and enjoy time with my wife in a free country. I can worship at my church. I can write long diatribes that few people read. I can be all I can be, within reason. A lot of this is due in part to our military who sacrifice more than I can ever imagine. Though there are times I vehemently disagree with the reasons they are sent somewhere, I know that their being there for our country in times of need is reassuring and a blessing beyond measure. To you, dear soldier, please come home soon and reap the benefits you fight for.
4. Division- It’s everywhere. Families. Churches. Businesses. People will label you a socialist or a right-wing goose stepper if you disagree with them. It’s harsher now than I’ve ever seen it, and I’m certain you see it to. Labels are plastered everywhere without a thought to what they really mean. We’ve become the children of the media, energizing ourselves with simple catch phrases that are no more substantive than a cup of tea. It’s sad that so many important things are defined by catch phrases and pundits. It really is a ‘shame on us’ moment, but it’s all part of the original grand design that many imperfect men came up with over 230 years ago. We have the freedom to be who we are, grand and imperfect.
Happy fourth to everyone. And blessings to each and every one of you.